We are up and running smoothly with farmersdotter Studio Guesthomes. We are enjoying hosting guests, entertaining, and the stimulating conversation that comes with meeting new friends. There are two guest houses available to visitors, one we refer to Osprey and the other is called Owl. Both named for the birds of prey that frequent the property.
However, we are not one-hundred per cent complete. A few tasks have yet to be completed but nothing that will interfere with the overall experience of a staycation on the farm.
I am looking forward to writing a post mortem, a treatise to substantiate the completion of an activity that has consumed the past fourteen months of our lives. I’m not convinced ‘complete’ is a concept fully embraced by the trades.
Here is the deal in one word: Patience
Underlined, italicized in bold and straight up in your face. Do not go past go without burning that word into the gray matter. Patience. And now, visualize a lineup of exclamation marks posterior waving stop signs like a coked-up bare-foot flag person on hot pavement.
Here is my issue: professionals adhering to my timeline. There is no doubt, as in our case, contractors of repute are capable, trustworthy and have the best intentions but simply stated shit happens.
When you commit to a project of hard hats and steel toed boots your challenge on a daily basis becomes one of controlling the amount of pooh that can rapidly develop. That and fostering a tolerance for excuses. Everything from natural disasters of biblical proportions to an uncanny regular occurrence of back, neck, shoulder, and bowel discomfort to family crisis and hangovers. Not to mention other ongoing construction needs taking resourses away from your project.
So here is my postmortem post but first I shall clear up a few projects. All I ask for is your patience.
When we bought the farm we were anticipating retirement. We had an initial five year business plan. A plan which did not include a live in farm manager; we were firm in our commitment to protect our privacy. A plan which did not include a new construction project; we were firm in our commitment to preserve capital.
Livin’ la vida loca baby #FarmLife
However, five years into our tenure we are not only blessed to have a terrific live in farm manager in Olivia, we are also deeply committed to an exciting and unique construction project.
So what happened?
Labour happened. More to the point cultivating and retaining labour happened. As much as we wish it weren’t the case, ours is not a hobby farm and it requires talented labour to help us make ends meet.
In the Similkameen Valley farm tasks are hard, dirty, sweltering affairs. Tasks Olivia and her concerted crew of dreadlocks meet head on every year. So much so we routinely rely upon her vetting skills to cultivate an appropriate labour pool.
So it came to pass that we had an old green coloured trailer on our property and it was only a matter of time before someone, Olivia, enquired as to wether we would be amenable to sheltering it out. #SlipperySlope #PrivacySchmivacy
Our problem going forward was the trailer. This big green monster of a trailer was simply put, quite hideous. No. Not merely hideous. It was odious as well. The big green monster trailer of eternal torment certainly was not suitable as long term accommodation.
Hell, it was not even suitable as a short term dog house. Which, ironically we have since learned that in a previous incarnation the big green monster trailer served a stint as a kennel.
At some point some simpleton decided that the big green monster trailer would make an i-f*cking-deal K9 lodgment. #WayTooMuchInformation
Regardless, that which is green and monstrous must be dealt with.
So in an effort to provide safe and appropriate cover from the elements we agreed to demolish the trailer…
..and performed a smudge ceremony all before developing a modest abode purposely designed to accommodate a capable and trustworthy soul with a penchant for vetting talent.
It became apparent from the onset that the prudent thing to do would be to construct a couple of vacation rental units at the same time to help off set the cost of construction. #AnotherSlipperySlope #ProjectRetirementKiller
So here we are five years later with a new five year business plan for ¡vida en la granja loca! – life on the crazy farm!
An extended vacation in Mexico is wonderful for obvious reasons; climate, culture. Who am I kidding, sun, sand, and beer play a role too.
The irony is the longer one lives in Mexico, even on the Caribbean Coast as we do, one can actually save money or at the very least break even compared to the living expense of wintering in Canada. And notice I said Caribbean ‘Coast’ and not beachfront.
First off packing for an extended stay can be tricky. We learnt early the trick is to pack light. Everything we require for two months or more fits nicely into one carry-on and one knapsack each plus a modest checked bag. Truth be told we could avoid the checked bag but after all there is duty-free to consider.
Better to purchase the extra few bits and bobs after arrival when you can truly identify immediate short comings. Honestly, the money saved on transporting extra luggage with potentially useless stuff will more than pay for supplies. And don’t worry because at the end of a stay one can resell or donate purchased items and make the return trip light too.
Okay smart guy how does one save money on an extended stay?
Well first off and most important is the extended stay part. After several trips to Mexico we understand an extended stay is the key.
Getting away for two or three weeks makes it difficult to take advantage of monthly and seasonal rentals. All-inclusive resorts offer everything you need for ten days or so and all you need do is arrive bering some semblance of sobriety. But you pay dearly for inclusivity.
For a short stay you do better to consult TripAdvisor and select a vacation rental away from the hotel zone yet close enough to walk, cab or take a collectivo to the action. A vacation rental should include kitchenette, bed, shower, and wifi. A safe is nice although with common sense and forethought security is not an issue on the Coast.
Staying within the colonias is a rewarding experience in and of itself. You can prepare meals in your casita or dine out at a local eatery. Your choice. A short stay will cost upwards of $90.00 US a night although accommodation can be had for as low as $40.00 US. Anything below that is a rare find indeed and below that is a hostel. You decide.
We are farmers without livestock so we have the luxury of having our long Canadian winters free. We planned our life to be this way. Perhaps you are in a similar situation.
For an extended stay figure out your monthly budget. Mortgage and utilities are fixed costs and play no part in this calculation.
Got your budget? Okay, take 50% to 60% and this amount is your living expense budget in Mexico if you don’t go full gringo. And don’t. Gringoism isn’t cool. The balance is your rental budget.
We are living in an excellent, well equipped one bedroom rental for about $460.00 CDN a month or $16.00 a night. That is also a minimum amount one would budget for living expenses in Mexico. We budget closer to $700.00 CDN a month for living or roughly 300 pesos a day.
Granted our ‘departmento’ isn’t listed on TripAdvisor but others like it are out there. That being said if your basic living expense in Canada is around $1,000.00 to $1,200.00 CDN per month for a family of two than you can do this. Any amount beyond is saved money.
While in Mexico we eat out sometimes but mostly we prepare our meals at home. We do enjoy a cerveza or six and we also cycle to the public beach regularly with picnic and chilled beverages nestled in the panniers. Beach clubs? Sure, just not everyday. The public beaches are awesome. Entertain and eat out? Yes, just not every night ‘mi gringo’.
There are several ways to have a rich experience on this budget as we will explore in future posts but rest assured if you have time Mexico can actually pay you back. Literally.
One other thing. We use a WestJet Mastercard that gives you Westjet dollars in return to use with no restrictions or blackouts. All our personal and business expenses throughout the year go on this card. So even our flights, minus taxes and airport fees of course, are paid in full.
Ergo we are living on the Mayan Riviera at a standard equal to or better than Canada for the cost of airport tax.
farmersdotter had a very productive meeting today with Whole Foods Market in Penticton. We discovered that not only is it their 29th Anniversary this week, it also appears our wood fired oven will be baking up a storm for them this winter. Drop by the Market, 103-1770 Main Street, October 31 for customer appreciation and a sample of real bread!